How appropriate that this Pentecost Sunday is Grandma Rasmussen’s 95th birthday! She is a prayerful Pentecostal passionate about equipping the church for mission with her gifts, has taught God’s Word across language barriers, and her love for me and for the Bible has had a profound spiritual influence on my life. Five years ago, I shared nine lessons she’d taught me. This year, I’m sharing a quasi-poem I wrote in honor of The Teacher.
Her fingertips pull the dough towards her,
Palms press it away,
Hands give it a quick quarter turn.
“Hannah, would you like to try now?”
Pull, press, turn.
Her skin is soft like bread dough,
flour fills in the wrinkles.
“Don’t worry if you don’t get it the first time.
I’ve had 87 years to practice!”
I am one of her many home-economics students.
She taught me to iron, to make beds,
Cinnamon rolls and monkey bread.
When the family needed dough,
She kneaded dough.
This home economics teacher’s got muscles.
She taught me it takes a strong woman to feed a family.
When we visit,
she’ll celebrate with turkey dinner, my dad’s favorite,
keep frozen donuts in the fridge for my aunt,
set out Grandpa’s favorite tea,
and make oatmeal for me.
She says, “Glad you liked it.”
“My special Hannah…
I remember babysitting you when you were just a baby.”
I remember when I was a kid
we flew, her and I, in a six-seater plane
to Kigoma, and the best lake in the world.
When my mom had baby twins,
she spent three months with us in Africa
“Glad I could be of help.”
She taught me a helping hand is a hardworking one.
“3 dozen rolls, we’ll triple the recipe.”
She was a math teacher too.
Taught the grandkids times tables with her able mind,
Taught me all of seventh grade pre-algebra in a month.
She taught me smart money is invested where it counts.
The turkey pan was from their wedding
And who knows how many times she’s reused her Ziplocs.
Up to half their income was going to their church,
their missionary sons,
their grandkids’ college education.
She taught us it isn’t giving unless you give something up.
To put my dad through college,
they sold the retirement house Grandpa built.
She taught us love is faithful,
Still giggling at my grandpa
six kids and 61 years later.
“My, isn’t he so handsome?”
She taught us love is full of faith.
She’s a licensed preacher too,
Sang me the books of the Bible song
And taught half of those books to pastors
in four Bible schools across Tanzania.
She taught us to pray.
Every morning her hands fold
“Lord, bless the Rasmussens…”
She tears up as she lists each family by name.
She prays for me over the phone,
“We’re so proud of how you’re serving God at Macalester.”
Gives me her favorite devotional and the Daily Bible
so we can read it each day together.
She taught me
It takes a strong woman to feed a family.
A helping hand is a hardworking one.
Smart money is invested where it counts.
It isn’t giving unless you give something up.
Love is full of faith.
She taught me to pray.
So let’s pray.
“Lord, bless this bread and the hands that prepared it.”
You can learn more about my grandparents’ incredible ministry legacy in Faithful Servants: The Legacy of Virgil and Ruth Rasmussen, which includes their autobiographies, sermons, recipes, poems, and tributes from family and ministry partners.